Merkel Says It's Not Cherry-Picking to Want Unique Brexit Deal

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to giving Britain a unique, tailor-made trade deal after Brexit, pushing back at the rhetoric from the European Commission that Theresa May has to choose between existing models.

The Commission accuses May of trying to cherry-pick whenever the U.K. suggests it wants a ”bespoke" deal after the divorce. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier says the options are a trade deal like Canada has -- a big downgrade from EU membership -- or an arrangement like Norway’s, which would leave the U.K. taking orders from the bloc.

At a joint news conference in Berlin, Merkel encouraged May to aim for something in between. Asked by a U.K. reporter if she could accept anything that is “bespoke,” the German leader came to May’s defense: "It’s not necessarily the case that a situation that is neither already known nor a classic free trade deal, that this situation is cherry-picking."

"In the end, there has to be a fair balance, of variations, on the single market, for example," she said. “We as the 27 will ensure that it’s as close as possible, but that there’s a difference from current membership."

While France has taken a more uncompromising stance, Germany has appeared more open minded in extending May a hand. At a key summit last year, it was Merkel who offered May some political cover when she was under pressure to agree on a financial settlement.

The German leader hasn’t had much time to zero in on Brexit. She’s just concluded four months of gruelling coalition talks that have left her weakened with the loss of key ministries for the sake of being able to stitch together government.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.